Harvesting water during peak times of precipitation ensures water will be on hand during drought or when water restrictions are implemented, reducing reliance on underground wells or municipal water systems. Harvesting rainwater also can help prevent flooding and soil erosion.
The average homeowner can collect thousands of gallons of rainwater each year. To learn just how much water can be harvested, as well as how many natural resources can be produced from that rain, visit www.save-the-rain.com, to calculate rain collection potential by geographic location and average rainfall.
Assume water collected is for irrigation only. Chemicals leaching from roofing materials (especially asphalt shingles or tar roofs) or gutters (some of which are made with lead soldering components) affect the water quality, making it unsafe to drink but ok for watering the garden.
Purchase and install leaf guards to help keep the gutters clear and increase water flow through the water collection system.
A number of manufacturers offer prefabricated rain collection systems complete with collection barrels. Ensure it is large enough to handle the volume of water collected. A portion of the gutter system should be removed so that it connects to the collection barrel or tank. As the rain falls, it will run down the roof and into the gutters before it streams into the downspouts. The downspout connected to the tank will deposit the water directly inside. Filters can be installed to help block the flow of debris.
Outfit the tank for overflow and water usage. Many rainwater collection systems are designed with an overflow safeguard that will prevent the water from backing up through the system and divert the rainwater back out of the downspout when the barrel or tank is full.
Particularly in areas where water usage is metered or where large gardens require irrigation, harnessing a natural source of water with a rainwater collection system just makes sense.